Kim Dieu knows marketing. Before she opened the modern Vietnamese concept Mi' N Tea, alongside her brother, Troy, and parents, Kim Tran and Dan Dieu, she worked in product marketing and graphic design, helping build brands. So when she realized the Mi' N Tea sign wouldn't be ready in time for the grand opening, she saw the significance. A restaurant's name, the story behind the menu, the staff culture—these things all matter, almost in equal measure to the marination time for the lemongrass pork. As Dieu plans for their sister location at the King of Prussia Mall, the sign goes up first. 

Dieu started her restaurant career from scratch and found her knowledge quickly battle-tested by the COVID-19 Pandemic. From its inception, Mi' N Tea has been an online business with online ordering and social media marketing woven into its DNA. What started as a quest for survival quickly transformed into a front-of-house cluttered with third-party platform iPads—each one a needy baby constantly pinging for attention. The Mi' N Tea staff would have to enter the orders manually into the restaurant POS system, even the direct orders streaming in from their website, which also didn't integrate with the POS.

Dieu and her younger brother run the business side of the restaurant—the tedious permits, staff training, and monthly bills. They leave the fun to their parents. Dieu's mother and father develop recipes that blend authentic flavors with contemporary dishes familiar to their broad audience. The longstanding dream of their parents, opening a restaurant, became a family affair. Dieu's father fixed up the restaurant, and her brother used his customer service expertise to hire and train their team. Sure, they were first-time business owners during one of the most challenging times to operate a restaurant in recent history. But the Dieu family's expertise was an even match for these unchartered waters. 

When they first opened, third-party platforms helped Mi' N Tea find potential customers. But Dieu quickly realized the short-term gain presented a long-term challenge. Commission fees between 30-40% meant they were barely making even. With SpotOn, online ordering seamlessly integrates with the POS, making the process smoother on the backend. They expanded to offer delivery through DoorDash drive, making direct online ordering more convenient and 15 – 20% cheaper than other platforms. Technology laid the foundation, and then Dieu gilded the lily with a marketing campaign encouraging third-party customers to order directly next time. A small slip of paper made a huge impact—she converted 60% of customers.

Online ordering marketing kit

At first, Dieu juggled restaurant duties with her corporate 9 – 5 job. It didn't take long to discover running a restaurant isn't a side hustle. Dieu started spending more time at Mi' N Tea, applying her professional skills to grow the restaurant's brand. But she ran into a familiar operator dilemma: there was so much to do and only so many hours in the day. "Every time I decided to put some time into marketing, something broke, someone didn't show up for a shift. So I'd have to tend to that more than marketing," says Dieu. 

Mi 'N Tea Facebook post promoting online ordering
Dieu encourages online ordering by sharing the Mi' N Tea menu.

Dieu knew that restaurant marketing takes more than a one-off Instagram post. Loyalty programs, email marketing, discounts, and offers—these initiatives aren't effective without a strategy. Dieu didn't have to look far to find Marketing Assist. The feature on the SpotOn dashboard acted like an extra hand when the other two were restocking napkins and double-checking payroll. "Without SpotOn, I was doing marketing maybe once a month, sometimes skipping it completely," says Dieu. "Now it takes 15 minutes, and I can send one or two emails a week."

It's not just a win for Dieu's work day, helping save her upwards of an hour a week on creating and sending marketing emails. It's a win for Mi' N Tea, making the whole business more nimble, helping quadruple their customer loyalty list, and even bringing in more than $2,000 in loyalty redemptions over 2 months. 

Mi 'N Tea bubble tea
Mi' N Tea marketing gets a boost from boba—and automation.

For Dieu's parents, Mi' N Tea is a playground. But for many of Mi' N Tea's loyal guests, it's something more serious: lunch. Dieu and her brother noticed one customer who ordered a rice bowl and taro boba tea every day without fail. After weeks of the same routine, the order didn't come in. Speculation set in. Dieur and her brother wondered if someone had messed up the order. What had caused this interruption to the cosmic order of things? It turned out to be an easy solution: sending a "we miss you" email and a 10% discount. A day later, it was rice bowl and taro boba tea o'clock. 

It's a cliche to say every day in the restaurant industry is different. The unvarnished truth, per Dieu, is that every day in the restaurant industry, there's a new pain in the butt. While it stands true at Mi' N Tea, they've gained enough experience to laugh through the pain. Whatever outlandish challenge gets thrown in their path, the Dieu family has learned how to figure it out and move on. It's a core part of their business culture, one they hope to carry with them as they expand to a pho restaurant and look to franchise in the future. Whether it's leaning on tech or the support of family, the solution might be closer than you think.

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